Cool Kickstarter Kicks (By Matthew Deboysere.

Biweekly I go through Kickstarter and try to find some interesting projects that you just must back. I have backed 22 projects since February 2011. My strategy is simple: I just cruise through the pages until I find something I like. Sometimes I search for keywords. Earlier this week for example I tried “laptop” and some awesome stuff popped up.

Dart-Laptop-Adapter

Take for example the Dart. It’s a universal laptop charger, the size of a lip stick. It costs you 90 USD and you’ll get a charger by 2015. It’s a great idea, but this Kickstarter project resembles the main issue I have with Kickstarter: it’s most of the times just an idea. The charger delivers 65W and puts out 18 to 21V. So it won’t charge certain tablets or stronger laptops. The word “universal” is also something that needs some in-depth research, as you need licensing for the Macbook plugs for example (and even Macbooks have two different types of plugs right now). Buying the standard version will cost you 90 USD, but 199 USD for a European Macbook charger? I don’t think my charger is that big anyway…

It’s a great example of an awesome idea that’s not ready yet to be sold, but it’s worth investing in these type of projects. It’s because of the funding they receive of their backers, that they can actually go further and finalize their projects. Kickstarter isn’t always about asking financial aid to finish something, but to actually help create something.

467793392_640

The story of the Airbar is something completely different. Those guys have tested and finished their prototypes and are ready to launch. I have to agree: when you are looking for a cooling device for your overheated notebook, they always tend to be oversized, heavy and they don’t seem to cool at all. Jordan Meyers created the Airbar, which he hopes to sell through Kickstarter. For 75 USD, you’ll receive a slick bar which lifts the back of your laptop by an inch for some comfortable typing, while sucking in air. Meyers choose some smaller but more expensive fans than the lower end fans that most cooling pads include. And to be honest, it even looks great too. I’m afraid it won’t meet its goal, but it’s worth a shot. Because really, how cool is a cooling gadget? No hipster is going to get this.

Last but not least is something more general about crowdfunding and why I like Kickstarter more than Indiegogo or other funding platforms. The campaign advisors of Kickstarter are very strict. If you don’t meet their requirements, you won’t get in. It’s that simple. Indiegogo allows everyone to enter and get started. They call themselves the World’s Funding Engine. I call them the crap sellers. Not to say that Kickstarter has the best projects, but I do want to say that Indiegogo has the worst. While searching for “laptop”, I found nine projects of the first twelve called “I need a new laptop, help me buy it.”

rufus-cuff_02

What I did find on Indiegogo that I wanted to mention, is the Rufus Cuff. It’s not a laptop project, but it’s a oversized smartwatch. It costs you 269, but it looks really awesome! I don’t think it will become more Star Trek than this, except if in the future we will get beamed up by Scotty. The Rufus Cuff allows you to text, call, Skype and take pictures on your wrist. It will even notify you when you left your phone behind. You can surf the web, do fitness exercises with the GPS, gyrometer and other built in analysis tools. It runs on a full Android version so you can install all apps on it. You only can’t call directly with it, as it needs a Bluetooth connection with your phone. It’s water resistant so you can text and call while in the rain or in the shower. Be quick though, as the campaign ends in less than a week.

Matthew Deboysere is a video game journalist for several Belgian media. Is the co-founder of G.Mag, a free digital gaming magazine, but left for a new adventure. Previously wrote for GUNK and 9lives. Loves video games with a great story that reduces him to tears. And cat videos.

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kw803 : Girls Gone Geek

Its time to be Mr Journalist and cover Acer’s launch event for their Liquid E3 smartphone in Brussels and take some interesting interviews. We talk to two different sides from the girl-geek spectrum and interview Sunny, a ‘beauty blogger’ who just got her first smartphone and Mee Hyang, one of the members of the ‘Brussels Girl Geek Dinner’ who has been around the tech block a couple of years.  Both ladies give us their vision on technology and the “Girl vs Gadget” ratio in their lives. As an added bonus we talk to Lars Christensen, the Acer Product manager about some of the cool new functionalities Acer will be supporting in their smartphone and ask him the pesky question : ‘What is a PC going to look like in 3 years’.  Enjoy KW803.

Shownotes.

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Geek-OCD. The urge to solve it all.

It was going to be a nice weekend. With the soft winter weather making room for clear skies and long walks in rolling fields, the last thing I had expected was to be stuck at home behind a computer. Some kind of work emergency ?  A horribly addictive game ? A burst of inspiration that triggered me to finish my book ? No .. none of the above. The one and only reason that kept me from enjoying some time away from my screen was : Geek-OCD.

laptop-love

The culprit in this case consisted of an issue with the wireless connection on my Linux Laptop. After installation of my new home router, the wireless connection problems on my favorite linux laptop escalated to a point that it was no longer usable. There is, for a geek like me, nothing more frustrating then buying a superfast router on a superfast internet connection .. Only to realize your superfast laptop is crawling along the intertubes slower then a snail with a morphine overdose. Quickly checking other machines on the network turned up that the issue was located solely on this one machine. And since this thing worked properly when I connected it via the cable .. It had to be a wireless issue.  An odd problem indeed. It had never done this with my previous router and there were no other devices on my network that showed the same problem. 

I started sliding down the slippery slope of Geek-OCD. The compulsory need to get to the root of any technological problem that comes across our path. The mental inability to say “Frack this, I don’t know what is going on here” and move on.  I had to know the root cause .. I just HAD to. Deep diving into the technicalities I started analyzing the wireless network traffic in my house using specialized tools. “Sniffing” my way through every single data packet that passed at light speed from my router to my Laptop I quickly found that something was wrong.  Strange errors like TCP-retransmissions, Ack packages and connections that were “out of sync” turned out to be the culprit of why it took forever to open up the www.ilovecarebears.com site. Each unknown error code led to a google search that led to tons of answers who in turn pointed to pages and pages of text on forums. The issue was slowly turning into one of these endless google rabbit holes that consume hours of your time, only to increase the sense that you have absolutely no clue what you are on about.

Reading through the 11th page on the forum of the 4th link in my 5th search attempt , I stopped myself.  STOP ! I had followed several sets of instructions that might lead to salvation.  I had pasted in commands in the terminal , flipped switches and checkboxes. I had rebooted, patched and botched things up .. I had reached the end of both my patience and my tether. And I still had not gotten any closer to a solution.

I decided to break one of my cardinal rules : I’ll just reinstall the system. The trigger of this drastic decision came from a second but equally powerful kind of Geek-Ocd. “You cannot keep on working with a botched up system”. Unclear of the damage caused by my tinkering, I decided that that machine just  “didn’t feel right” anymore. I could no longer vouch for its integrity and it somehow didn’t ‘feel’ right anymore (+ my problem wasn’t fixed) so I decided to reinstall the system, a clear system of my second geek-OCD : every system has to work perfectly.

4 hours (and 4 versions of linux) later .. I watched the winter sun set on the western skyline and found that I had blown away an entire afternoon without getting anything done.  The cause of my problem not found, my working system in shambles and still a long way to go before my fresh installation would be tweaked to my specifications. Because that is yet another Geek-OCD quirk I have, Every system needs to have all the right software and settings before I start using it…. In short : Geek-OCD ate my weekend.

 

Epiloge.

The next Monday after this tech intensive weekend a friendly geek in a Linux Irc chatroom pointed out that “oh, you have a common problem. It has to do with a driver issue , just disable setting X and you’ll be fine”. I resisted the urge to scream and just rested my head between my hands. I had once again become the victim of my own Geek-Ocd. The urge to find the root of every problem, to never work with a “compromised” system and to only be satisfied with a perfectly personalized install of your own computer. Back in my windows days this meant that I spent more time maintaining my systems then I did using them. These days, thanx to the macs in my house, that is no longer the case. Yet linux, stable and reliable as it is, still has the power to push me into Geek-OCD relapse from time to time.

In the end we should take the time to realize that technology needs to work for us, instead of the other way around. And that solutions that require more effort then the results they produce … are probably not the smartest way to spend your Sunday afternoon. However : The one thing you do get out of all this is knowledge. The knowledge and experience on how to tackle a technical issue like this, Expertise on the deeper darker side of technology behind the issue that you have … But maybe most importantly : The knowledge not to throw away a sunny afternoon on a problem that you could have fixed with 2 clicks, the next Monday morning.

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kw607 : Reviewing the Thule Gauntlet 13 inch Macbook pro and iPad attache Case.

We got a nice and juicy hardware review for you on one of our favourite topics : Laptop bags. We take a closer look at the 13 inch Macbook pro and iPad attache Case (what a mouthful) from Thule. We take a good and decent look at the appearance, style and finish of Thule’s carry-case for the Macbook pro .. but most importantly we answer the question no-one dares to ask : Is it waterproof ? All of that and more in this weeks Knightwise.com podcast.

Shownotes.

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kw605 : The Samsung 2013 Premiere event in London.

We grab our camera kit once more and hop over to London to cover Samsungs 2013 premiere event where their new product line of Phones, Tablets, Laptops, Desktops and other devices is presented to the public. We take a close look at the new Galaxy phones, the new NX Camera, and Samsungs first Windows-Android dualbooting sideloading Slabtop : The Ativ Q. 

Shownotes.

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Saynonara mr Desktop

Sometimes being a geek means taking risks, trying things out and experimenting with new gadgets, technologies and trends that arrive on the shores between real and Cyberspace. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been noticing such a “looming trend” in my techno-ecosphere and decided to bite the bullet and go head on into it .. 

But first let me explain : I live a very mobile lifestyle. Times where I am actually “in my home office” are quite sparse. I’m on the road a lot, I work abroad and the scarse moments that I AM home, I love to hang out with my beloved better half, our two dogs and our cat. Holing myself up in my office upstairs with the door shut .. is not an activity I favor so much. The result has been that my favorite “batcave” has been largely “unused” lately. The Dual screen I7 Mac Mini setup that I had setup was sparsely used (mostly as a server) and the i5 Linux desktop that sat along side it spent most of its time idling away or catching up on software and security update. Meanwhile I was either working from my Galaxy Nexus phone, reading stuff on my Nexus Tablet or iPad or punching away on the 11.6 inch Macbook Air that I drag around virtually anywhere. 

But when we look at the trends of technology, we are slowly seeing the processor powers of all of these different devices coming up to par with one another. My “Desktop machines” might sport a little more ram then my Laptops but overall, my laptop(s) have the power to haul what needs to be hauled. My phone / tablet enable me to communicate and consume content anywhere .. so the question came up : Why do I still NEED a desktop anyway ? To sit there ?

office

I bit the bullet 2 weeks ago when I disassembled my Mac Mini setup, and hooked the machine, together with a bunch of USB drives, up to our TV downstairs. The “Super Desktop” I had put together a couple of months ago, is no more. I have changed its roll from “production system” to “central home server”. Hooking it up to our tv and stereo system it serves up movies , tv shows and music when we want to, and uses its raw I7 power (and 16 gig of ram) to run multiple virtual machines. The machine is now almost constantly doing “Something” and gives me the power of a mediacenter and a small datacenter at my fingertips. Because all of the content is stored and backed up in a central location, I no longer need to worry about ‘what file is where’ since everything is stored right there on the server. With that I also alleviate one of the major hassles I had where some files would reside on desktop X and some files would reside on desktop Y … no more local files, period.  The i5 Linux desktop went out next. Whatever local data and settings still resided where either transferred to the downstairs sever or copies over to my Macbook air that is also running Linux.

So what am I left with.

So right now my ‘laptops’ have found their rightful place in my office. I’ve devided up the 24 inch Displays between my 13 inch Macbook pro running Mountain Lion and my 11.6 inch Macbook Air running Ubuntu Linux. I’ve given an nice “laptop stand ” to both and a comfortable keyboard. When I do ‘Arrive’ in the office, the laptop of choice can “land and charge” in its designated slot and the comfortable keyboard, mouse and screen give me the perfect “workstation”. (With an extra screen)

Simplicity, portability, elegance, 

In the end, Its not about the speed. If you would honestly ask me if I “miss” my desktops ? No. The impact on speed and disk space in negligible and the fact that I can now “carry around” my workstation everywhere offers me much more perks than downsides. By centralizing my storage and cpu load to the downstairs servers, I now have (with the additional use of Cloud solutions like Dropbox and Ubuntu one) everything I need on every system that I need. The last divide between home and mobile has hereby completely vanished.

What I have lost ? Nothing much actually. Since i’m not an avid gamer, my desktop(s) where no graphical powerhouses. When I do feel like Fragging something I either pop over to my game console or fire up Call of Duty on my Macbook pro (or any good game on Ubuntu, the ‘Air’ is able to hold its own there too)  When on the road I connect to my home shared using VPN tunnels and SSHFS mounts. Most of the file syncronisation is handled by Dropbox, Ubuntu one and my Google Apps environment.  Time to say “Sayonara” to the age of the desktop. The beige boxes, pimped powerhouses or multi-core mega-machines. They have lived long and prosper .. but its time to move on.

 So what about YOU ? Do you still have any desktops running ? Thinking of biting the bullet and dumping the “beige boxes” ? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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The Knightcast Episode 35 : Remote Domination.

Remote
The Knightcast Episode 35 : Remote Domination. 

Direct link to the show :

http://www.knightwise.com/podcasts/kc_2082006.mp3

Summary. 

Don't even leave your seat for episode 35 of the Knightcast : Remote domination. We talk about the tools of the trade how to remote control every PC that you own. With tips, howto's and cool programs we turn your computerroom obsolete and let you control everything from your couch. With music from Noplasticinside its another Info- Loaded Knightcast.

Promo : Miketechshow

Download the Shownotes in PDF.

 

{mos_sb_discuss:5}

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Dell releases USB peripheral to battle exploding battery issue.

Dell releases USB peripheral to battle exploding battery issue.

 

dell

 

 

The first ever USB Powered Fire extinguisher. 🙂

For tech in your life .. tune into www.knightwise.com and check out the Knightcast Podcast. 

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Its not what you add .. its what you leave out . Practical pointers in simplicty.

Does your office look like a Borg hive ? 

 One of the biggest challenges in the daily life of a cyber-citizen must be .. Simplicity. Simplicity in using technology , simplicity in integrating technology , simplicity in hardware and software .. and most importantly : Simplicity in thought.
Just think of the classic example. Somewhere along the way it happened. Your ever so tidy laptop bag seams to have been impregnated by the lords of chaos them selves. What started out as a slim shiny Dell laptop-bag has now become an atrocity. Like a grotesque pregnant elephant its innards have now swollen up with meters of cables , extra floppy drives, cd’s, extension cords , paper, books and so forth. As you watch the heaving husk that , due to being terribly overweight, drags your left shoulder to the ground and makes you look like Quasimodo, you think .. Where did it all start ?
But when you look at the mess that is your office , you see a reoccurring pattern, Your office, once setup with the help of your girlfriend to be a place of fen shue , now has the characteristics of a Borg cube after a high speed collision with a scrap barge. Cables , monitors, paper , books, post it notes.. keyboards overlapping keyboards, mouse-cables in suffocating deadlocks, flashing hubs and switches.. and loads of empty coffee-cups.
The big drawback of being on the edge of real an cyberspace is that you learn a lot of new things everyday. There is so much to see, to find out, to try , to test, to use .. Everyday something comes along that takes your fancy and you add it to the list .. stick it in your bag , add it to your start menu. And pretty soon you have an immense collection of tools and toys that by no means contribute to your effectivity.

 Techno-Reset.

What i regularly do is a ‘technological reset” where I look at all the things I have and think about ways to work more effective. For example : My 4 old test computers that served as my loyal test-battery (and drove my fiancé AND our electrical bill up the walls) have now been replaced by 4 virtual machines running on one computer, My entire collection of Windows versions have been scaled down to fit on one single dvd. My overweight software collection bag has been reduced to one portable USB hard drive and so on. Its very important to find the balance between keeping up with what is new , and being overwhelmed by hardware, software, information and more. The challenge is to analise what you have , and try to distill it into a workable simple concept. This means letting some things go , or combining tools, hardware or work-methods, but this is the only way to let technology work for you .. instead of the other way around. Take for example my current podcasting setup. It started out with one computer and a microphone , but due to the demands of my podcast, has grown into : A microphone stand , A microphone, A pop screen , headphones, a Mixer , My Macbook for show-notes and skype conversations , a second computer to play music or background tracks (using a USB DJ console) and finally a Linux system to record everything on.  I must say its very versatile BUT also very complex. I am momentarily contemplating how to simplify the whole project. This will not only get me a cleaner office , it must also give me a cleaner way to do my thing : thus simplifying technology.  The “how to record skype conversation” issue has been solved as I found this little gem for my macbook  and as a replacement (or quite probably an “addition” to my studio setup I was looking at the Samson C01u microphone with a table stand .  Together with my Macbook it will give me a portable high quality studio, that can be put away at a moments notice. Using Garageband and open source software like Audacity this wil greatly simplify my podcast production.

So you see my friends, Living with technology is not about what you add .. but what you leave out in order to be as effective as possible. This will help you in working faster, thinking clearer, have more time to think and respond to creative challenges. Downloading tool after tool , installing pc after pc is easy , its looking THROUGH the technology in order to see how you can destil it, simplify it .. and tune it into your way of life. 

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The Knightcast Episode 31 : Tips for the mobile Geek.

 

Ep31

 

The Knightcast episode 31 : Tips for the mobile geek.

Direct link to the show : http://www.knightwise.com/podcasts/kc290506.mp3

Summary.

An episode jam packs with tips for the mobile geek. How to carry and organize your tech equiptment as easy, light, convinient and efficient as possible. What to take with you, where and how to store all your geeky goods. Furthermore we talk about the Ubuntu-Granny incident and let you hear ' The Knightcast Signal".

Shownotes.

  • Intro
  • News and events.
  • MUSIC The Knightcast signal as preformed by Noplasticinside .
  • The Knightwise.com website gets 11000 hits over the weekend.
  • The Ubuntu story on Digg .

  • Part 1 : Tips for the mobile geek.
  • Why this podcast.
  • Groundrules.
  • Dividing everything into zones.

  •  Zone 2 : The "Bag"
  • Groundrules.- What to put in your bag.

  • Zone 3 : The car.- Groundrules.
  • What to store inside your car.
  • Signoff.

For more information or to send feedback , please visit our main website www.knightwise.com

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